How to rent a home with bad credit

Having a poor credit score can make a lot of life events more difficult. For example, it may not be as easy to get a home loan, a balance transfer loan, an auto loan, a personal loan, a debt consolidation loan, or even a credit card. Renting an apartment is no exception to this. If you’re wondering how to rent a home with bad credit, you’ve come to the right place. 

Is It Possible To Rent a Home With Bad Credit?

Credit scores are important in all kinds of things, including renting. It’s a common practice for landlords to check applicants’ credit scores. A few other things are included with credit scores—close to 90% of landlords reported they checked for previous evictions, income, job and rental history, and criminal backgrounds when making their decisions.

Credit checks help them to determine whether you’re a trustworthy tenant. It shows them whether or not you make payments on time. It also shows them if you’ve ever been evicted in the past. It shouldn’t be too surprising that having a good credit score is a positive thing for landlords. This is something you’ll have to work around if you have a low credit score. Luckily, there are ways to get an apartment or rent a home, even if your credit score is poor. 

You will likely have to do some extra work and research to find a landlord that’s willing to rent to you. But in the end, it will be worth it if you can get that apartment or home you’ve been hoping for, even with bad credit

Finding a Home To Rent With a Bad Credit Score

There are a few things you should do to prepare for your apartment search with a low credit score. Knowing what to expect and having all of your information together beforehand can help you find the right landlord and apartment for you. 

1Check Your Credit Score and Report for Credit History– Know your credit score.
– Review your credit report for accuracy and discrepancies.
– Address any negative points proactively.
2Keep Detailed Records If You Already Pay Rent– Maintain records of previous rent and utility payments.
– Consider using a previous landlord as a reference.
– Have proof of income ready.
3Offer To Pay More Upfront With a Bad Credit Score– Save up for a higher security deposit and extra rent payments.
– Demonstrate commitment and offset perceived risks.
4Get a Cosigner With a Poor Credit Score– Find a cosigner with good credit willing to take responsibility for payments if needed.
– Communicate openly about terms and implications.

Below is more information on each step:

Step 1: Check Your Credit Score and Report for Credit History

This is the first step in your rental journey. Knowing what your credit score is and what’s listed on your report can help you prepare for your search. Being able to explain things to the landlord and provide context regarding missed payments or any other negative marks will be important. And you’ll know what the landlord is going to see when they pull these reports. 

Furthermore, understanding the nuances of your credit report, like identifying any discrepancies or outdated information, can allow you to take corrective actions with your credit history. By proactively addressing any negative points, you position yourself in a stronger light, even before discussions begin with potential landlords.

Step 2: Keep Detailed Records If You Already Pay Rent

If you have a detailed record of previous rent and utility payments, this may help to show your potential new landlord that you’re trustworthy despite your score. Consider using a previous landlord as a reference, pulling up your bank account records, and having your proof of income ready. 

Moreover, maintaining a ledger or a dedicated file that catalogs all your timely payments can provide a visual representation of your commitment. If you’ve previously encountered financial hiccups, showing a pattern of recent responsible behavior can be crucial in alleviating concerns when you don’t have a decent credit score.

Step 3: Offer To Pay More Upfront With a Bad Credit Score

If the landlord still isn’t convinced, you could save up enough money to make a larger security deposit than what they’re asking for. Consider saving enough for a security deposit plus a couple of months’ worth of rent as well. 

By doing this, you’re demonstrating a tangible commitment and assuring the landlord of your intent to maintain the rental terms. This act not only reflects your serious intent but can also offset the perceived risks associated with tenants who have a lower credit score.

Step 4: Get a Cosigner With a Poor Credit Score

A cosigner is a third party with good credit history that signs up to take responsibility for the payments if you fail to pay. This is often a close friend or family member because it’s a big responsibility. If you have someone who’s willing to sign on as a cosigner, it’s a good way to make the landlord feel more secure if you have bad credit history and low credit scores. 

Additionally, it’s essential to communicate openly with your cosigner about the terms of the agreement and potential implications to ensure transparency. Remember, their credit score could also be impacted if there are any lapses in rent payments, so it’s crucial to uphold your end of the deal. You should know that, in most cases, rent payments are not reported. However, that can depend on your landlord. Regardless, it is important to pay rent on time. 

FAQS: Rent a Home With Bad Credit

What is considered a “bad” credit score when trying to rent a home?

When renting a house with bad credit, typically, a score below 600 is considered a poor credit score. The minimum credit score needed may vary depending on the landlord or property manager. Some landlords may have more leniency, especially if the location or the housing market in the area allows for it. However, it’s always essential to research and prepare in advance.

How does my credit score impact the interest rate or monthly rent I might be offered? 

A low credit score can lead to a higher monthly rent or a higher security deposit requirement, as landlords perceive more risk in your ability to pay rent consistently. This isn’t a universal rule, but it’s common practice, especially in competitive rental markets where landlords have multiple applicants.

If I was previously evicted but have since improved my financial situation, how can I prove to potential landlords that I’m a reliable tenant now? 

Present your improved financial situation with recent bank statements and rent payments to show consistent income and payment history. References from previous landlords can also help in showing a good rental history. A well-drafted letter explaining the circumstances of the eviction and the steps you’ve taken since can also be beneficial.

Are there specific areas or types of housing that are more lenient towards renters with bad credit? 

Yes, some landlords, especially those not part of a large property management company, might be more understanding and open to renting a house to someone with a low credit score. Rural or less densely populated areas might also have more relaxed criteria than urban settings or hot rental markets.

How long does a negative item (like late payments or an eviction) stay on my credit report?

Negative items such as late payments can stay on your credit report for seven years. It’s wise to check your credit reports annually from the three major credit bureaus to ensure accuracy. Understanding your credit’s contents can help you better navigate conversations with potential landlords.

What are other common checks or requirements landlords might ask for apart from a credit check?

Apart from a credit check, most landlords require a rental application, bank account details, recent pay stubs, and references from previous landlords to ascertain financial stability. This holistic approach helps them get a more comprehensive understanding of your ability to maintain the rental agreement terms.

How can I negotiate with a landlord if I have bad credit? Are there specific points I should highlight during the conversation? 

Highlight your steady income, rental history, willingness to provide a larger security deposit, or even a cosigner. Emphasize other aspects of your personal finances that indicate financial responsibility despite your bad credit history. Personal meetings can also be more persuasive, allowing you to present your case directly.

Are there agencies or organizations that can help individuals with bad credit find housing?

Yes, there are agencies specializing in assisting individuals in renting a house with bad credit. They understand the challenges of poor credit history and have connections with landlords or property managers who are more lenient. Seeking advice from these agencies can also equip you with tools and resources to improve your credit for future endeavors.

How frequently should I check my credit report if I’m planning to rent in the near future? 

It’s a good idea to check your credit report from the three nationwide credit bureaus at least annually. If you are planning to rent, you might want to check it a few months in advance to address any discrepancies. This proactive approach can make the rental process smoother and less stressful.

Can disputing errors on my credit report improve my chances of securing a rental property?

Absolutely. If you find inaccuracies on your credit reports, disputing them with the credit bureaus can improve your credit score, thereby increasing your chances of securing a rental property. Always ensure the information on your credit report accurately reflects your financial behaviors to maintain credibility.

No Credit Check Apartment Rentals

Because some landlords operate on their own, independent of large companies or corporations, you can often negotiate with them about credit checks. If the landlord is simply an individual who owns a property, then you may be able to convince them that you’re able to make the payments 

without a credit check. 

However, in most cases, there will be a credit check with the process regardless of whether you have good credit or bad credit scores. So, expect to undergo a credit check with the rental application process. 

But realistically, are there landlords who won’t run credit checks? There may be. It all depends on the specific landlord. You may be able to find one that is okay without a credit check. But they will still likely need to confirm your trustworthiness. They may do this with bank statements, proof of income, and references. So be sure to have these things ready. 

The Bottom Line With CreditNinja

Finding the right apartment or home can be a stressful process on its own, even without having poor credit. Follow the steps above, and eventually, you’ll find the best landlord and apartment for your situation. Improving your credit is one step that will be helpful in your house search and is possible! 

With the right tools, even the lowest credit score can see improvement, sometimes in as little as a few months. The easiest way to help your credit is to make payments on your credit accounts on time. Besides paying on time, consider diversifying your credit accounts, seeking professional financial advice, or even simply checking your credit report annually for any discrepancies. 

Having a home is not just about securing it—it’s about maintaining a good relationship with your landlord and ensuring your rent is paid consistently and on time. So, once you do land that house, it is really important to stay on top of paying rent! Automating your monthly rent payment is one easy way to do this. Learn more about the cost of bad credit and tips on improving your credit score in the CreditNinja Dojo!


  1. Tenant Screening Services | Urban Institute
  2. Renting a Home With Bad Credit | Equifax

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